Post # 1
I’m prepared for the “it’s all relative/it depends” responses 🙂 but I’d really appreciate any helpful feedback!
I’m considering relocating to NYC (where my fiance lives) after we’re married, because the job opportunities in my area are few and far between. My fiance is making 20K working PT, but is being considered for a FT position paying 38K when he receives his master’s degree this fall. The jobs I’m looking at vary in salary, with the lowest ones being 28K.
So I’m wondering: What household income will we need to have a 1BR apt (not studio) in a relatively safe area of Brooklyn or Queens, pay household bills, groceries, and still be able to save money? We have a combined 100K in savings and no debt.
I’m asking because my fiance wants to start looking at apartments, and I don’t want to do that if we can’t afford to live there! If it’s not possible to live comfortably on our salary, we are going to go back abroad, where we can save up more money.
Thanks in advance for your advice!
Post # 3
That’s pretty low for two people, but it can be done (you’ll just have a longer commute to work in the city.) When I first mvoed to the city in 06 I started out making 45k and shared a crappy apt with 2 other girls in a pretty crappy neighborhood (about 50 min commute to flatiron for work) but it was not terrible. I wasn’t home much anyway and I ate a lot of ramen 😉 It can be done but you have to budget accordingly- keep in mind that things like groceries/utilities are about 30% more anywhere you go in the city (in my experience) and rent is going to be a large chunk of your expenses. If you can find a place where you’re spending less than half of your combined monthly income on rent and utilities, you should be OK until you get better paying jobs.
Also keep in mind that moving is super stupid expensive in the city- at the bare minimum you’ll have to pay first month and a month’s deposit to move in, but more likely you’ll need first month, last month, deposit and possibly a fee to move in. That means if your apt is $1200, you’ll likely need to pay between $2400 and $5k to get in the door.
Post # 4
@bkrocks13: Thank you! That is exactly the kind of constructive advice I’m looking for. Could I get a nice-ish apartment (meaning not a shoebox in a dangerous area) for $1200?
Post # 5
@everyheart: It is going to be very tough on that budget, but possible. My FI and I live in Astoria (in Queens), and pay $1400 for a one bedroom, which is a good price for the neighborhood. You can find things that are cheaper, but it will be difficult.
If you want to pay $1200, you should look in South Slope, Sunset Park, Kensington, and Bay Ridge in Brooklyn. You could also give Sunnyside, Astoria, Woodside, Jackson Heights, Forest Hills, and Kew Gardens a try. I listed all of those neighborhoods basically in order of how far they are from midtown. You will be able to find stuff in your price range in Crown Heights, Bed-Stuy and Bushwick (all in Brooklyn), but they are slightly rougher neighborhoods (still mostly safe, but just not as gentrified).
We live on about $55K combined (both graduate students), are paying $1400 a month in rent, plus groceries and student loans and have managed to save some money, so it definitely can be done.
Post # 6
unfortunately im going to be the negative nancy on this one– itll be hard. like really hard. and you’ll probably have to pick a less than safe area to live in and you might not even know it. youll burn through that savings.
not to be bitchy but my fiance and i want to move out of nyc as quickly as possible because we hate how much it costs to live here (and we make a combined household income of around $160k) we have a small (very small for 2 people and 2 dogs) rent controlled apartment in an insanely safe and amazing neighborhood in brooklyn…but its not enough. we want to have a family and if we start looking at 2 bedrooms in the area, our rent shoots up another 1500. not kidding, 1500. easily. food is expensive– go to a trader joe’s whenever you can, take your lunch to work, cook for yourselves a lot. but because youll be close to where “its happening”…you’ll likely start living slightly beyond your means and dipping into that savings. everyone has nice clothes, eats out, takes cabs and youll want to do that too. it will kind of suck being in new york city and having access to everything but not being able to afford much. not to mention new york is dirty and loud and annoying and CROWDED.
think long and hard about it, honestly. take it from two lifelong new yorkers…its not worth the glamour and glitz.
**take this all with a grain of salt…im grumpy and want to leave NYC asap!
Post # 7
@1stRosie: Yeah I feel the same way, cannot wait to finish school and get the hell out of here! Its just exhausting, and while some people have the stamina for it, I do not.
Post # 8
I have a feeling you will end up in a shoebox on that income, even if it is technically a onebedroom (it’s a fluid concept in NYC). I know what $1200/mo got me in Boston (ie nothing) and what it gets me in San Francisco (also nothing. You’d have to live in a gang-infested part of Oakland). I know what my friends pay in Brooklyn, and it isn’t pretty. Cruise Craigslist, and try to make a trip out to apartment hunt before making the leap. You definitely should see the neighborhoods and apartments you can afford and see if it’s worth the sacrifice to you.
Post # 9
There are plenty of people who live in NYC on 60k/household. Here’s what they don’t do:
1. Go out drinking.
2. Buy weed.
3. Go out to dinner.
4. Get takeout.
5. Take cabs.
You’ll end up living either in Jersey on the PATH train, or in the less trendy parts of Brooklyn or Queens. My neighborhood is full of apartments in that price range, and I’m only 20 mins from Manhattan.
People have kids here on less money, but it’s a serious struggle. I wouldn’t do it myself.
Post # 10
@1stRosie: OP, listen to this advice. Myself and many of my friends make more than the combined income of you and your FI and it is still hard sometimes. I live in NJ bc you can get something bigger and nicer for your money. However, for $1200, I cant imagine where you will live that isnt very old, very small, or a walk-up apartment and those all sound like horrible options. I do think your FI could potentially make more with his Master’s though so maybe you will be okay once you get here.
I am from Brooklyn but I moved out about 5 years ago bc I just couldnt take it.
Post # 11
@lotto: my FI has lived in one of the 5 boroughs his entire life (hes 41) and I have lived here for 26 year, except for college (I went to school in boston). we are over-anxious to leave NYC for Austin! I hear its like the brooklyn of 5 years ago 🙂
Post # 12
H and I have been discussing moving to NYC for his job – it’s one of the few cities in the world where he can work. He figures that we can’t maintain our current standard of living (we live downtown Chicago now) unless we make TWICE what we make here. Meaning we’d have to make almost $400K combined. Maybe it’s because we’re older, but I’m just not willing to do the “just starting out sacrifice” stuff anymore.
Post # 13
I lived in Astoria for 4 years and had to get the heck out because everything was so expensive. I was living on a 32K/year salary and it was a nightmare. I was living paycheck to paycheck and could never go anywhere or do anything. I ate pasta and cereal for dinner because that was the best that I could afford. While it’s still possible to make it with that kind of income, it is very hard.
Post # 14
@geekspice: Thats fair. I went out to dinner last night for the first time in forever, and we were like hmm…this is what this feels like…weird.
Post # 15
Here’s the kicker.. in order to qualify for an apartment, (unless you are able to find a by-owner, which is rare) you will need to make at least 40x the monthly rent and have good credit. Anywhere you can meet those standards, you can afford. You may not want to find the most expensive place that you qualify for, however, in order to be comfortable spending on groceries, furniture, travel, dining out, etc.
Also, the best time to plan a move is for November-February. Starting in the spring, the prices skyrocket and they don’t really go down until after October. When I moved up to be with FI the first time, we waited until the end of our lease (September) to start looking and at the last minute all of the rental prices were through the roof. We moved back to the south where I am from and saved money for a while. When we decided to move back (because of better job/school opportunities) it was January. We saved until June and he moved up (stayed with family), took summer classes and found job by August. We hit the bricks looking for an apartment in late October, and found a lot of promising leads but nothing we could qualify for until January, when I finally moved up. Being that you live out of state, most realtors will be looking for his income to be enough, unless you already have a job secured in NYC.
Post # 16
My friend’s old apartment in Astoria was only $950 and it was a 1 bedroom/studio. The bedroom was a separate room, but the kitchen/living were all one room. She made less than 30K/year then as well. The apartment in Astoria I live in now is $1,400 but its a pretty large one bedroom. I think you can find things if you look. I know I have a few friends who had to get out of Brooklyn because they said the prices were just getting too high. The further from Manhattan you go, the lower the prices tend to be though-so it really depends what you want to do commute wise.